News / Europe

    Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actions

    Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actionsi
    X
    August 30, 2013 8:12 PM
    During Syria’s civil war, Russia has stood out as President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest ally. Now that the United States reportedly is preparing an aerial attack on Syria, where is Russia? VOA's James Brooke reports from Moscow.
    Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actions
    James Brooke
    Russia’s Navy is sending two warships into the Eastern Mediterranean, near the shores of Syria.
     
    At the same time, Russia’s state-controlled TV shows President Vladimir Putin 6,000 kilometers to the east, touring flooded farmland in Siberia.
     
    All week long, Russia’s president has kept quiet in public on Syria.

    He is leaving his aides to do the talking as Western powers consider punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly gassing inhabitants of a Damascus suburb last week.
     
    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted: "The West behaves like a monkey with a grenade in the Islamic world."

    Military victory "an illusion"
     
    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was more diplomatic about Western intervention in Syria’s civil war.

    “If somebody thinks that by bombing the Syrian military infrastructure and leaving the battlefield for the opponents of the regime to win, they will end it - it is an illusion,” Lavrov said Monday at a press conference here. “Even if they win in such a way, the civil war will continue.  Those who represented the government side will simply become the opposition.”

    International military deployments directed toward SyriaInternational military deployments directed toward Syria
    x
    International military deployments directed toward Syria
    International military deployments directed toward Syria
    ​Russian analysts said that one or two days of punishing air strikes will not turn the tide of a war that has already cost 100,000 lives.
     
    "Syrian regime will suffer a lot and it will lose some of its potential,” said Georgy Mirsky, professor of Mideast studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. “But Russia and Iran will make up for it. Everything will be compensated for this."

    Mirsky and Russian parliamentarians say that Washington’s true goal today is the same as Washington’s past goals in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya - regime change.
     
    Mirsky said that Russia will gain by doing nothing, calling such a position "extremely advantageous" to Russia.

    "Now if the Americans engage in a war, in a new war they can't win, it is all the better for Russia," he said.
     
    Blaming the rebels
     
    Leaders of the United States and France said they are moved to military action by the alleged poison gas attack last week that reportedly killed 350 civilians and injured thousands more.
     
    In the West, the prevailing consensus is that Syrian government soldiers carried out the gas attack, making it the latest escalation in over two years of attacks on civilians in opposition areas.
     
    In Russia, diplomats and journalists have repeatedly suggested that Syrian opposition fighters gassed their own neighborhoods.
     
    "Why is there such certainty that this was done by the regime while the arguments we're hearing are anyway not convincing?’” asked Vitaly Naumkin, World Politics faculty chair at Moscow State University. “It's incomprehensible. Why we can't wait for the (United Nations) inspectors to finish their work?"
     
    Dissenting voices have been silenced.
     
    Mahmoud al-Hamza, a Moscow-based member of the Syrian National Council, the opposition umbrella group, spoke to VOA.

    "In the year since President Obama said that using chemical weapons crosses the red line, Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons and gas thirteen times," he said "This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last."
     
    Al-Hamza says he is rarely invited to appear on Russian television.
     
    “Two months ago, we wanted to hold a round table on Syria, and the special services warned us that they would arrest us,” he said, referring to Russia’s intelligence services. Speaking for opponents of President Assad, he said in Russian: “We don’t feel comfortable here.”

    UN veto and evacuation
     
    In the last two years, Russia has vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions for taking action against the Syrian government three times. Given the chance in coming days, Russia will undoubtedly cast a fourth veto.
     
    Russian officials admit their ability to block the United States is limited. Even Minister Lavrov said Monday: “We are not going to fight anybody.”
     
    A Navy official said Friday that the main role for Russian warships sent to Syria could be to evacuate some of the estimated 30,000 Russian citizens who live there.
     
    The most Russia may do is snub President Obama next week when he comes to St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit. On Friday, a Kremlin aide said that President Putin will be too busy to do more than shake hands with the visiting American president.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Nick from: USA
    September 01, 2013 7:29 AM
    You are wrong when you say America wants to go to war in Syria. If America wanted to take military action we would have done so two years ago. The situation we find ourselves in has to do with principle. The world universally condemns the use of chemical and biological weapons and we unanimously declare their will be consequences in order to deter by anyone from using them. Then if someone uses these weapons does there not need to be a consequence, otherwise what is to keep someone else from using these weapons since the world has shown their will be no consequences for doing so.
    The U.S. does not want war with Syria but we believe there needs to be a response for Assad using chemical weapons on his people. We do not seek to take over Syria, we would much prefer it if Russia, China, the UK, France, Turkey etc worked with us but countries do not want to come along we still see it as a job has to be done.

    by: Blue_Sky from: Addis
    August 30, 2013 9:33 AM
    The only 'West' hoping to intervene right now is the USA, and sending warships is hardly classified as 'seething on the sidelines'. Even if you must go for hyperbole to drum up a vision of grandeur, one understand that there are limits too to that kind of thing.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora